During the preparation phase for our Paris journey, we had asked the owner of our apartment for the names of his favorite Parisian restaurants and he did not hesitate to recommend Marty Restaurant on Avenue des Gobelins. David Rogers advised it was a third generation of the Marty family that had operated this restaurant since 1913. We had stopped by there the previous evening but found it dark and we were worried something had happened. David had raved about this place as his very favorite and I feared I would have to break the bad news to him.

Relief was at hand as we exited the nearby Metro station in the Fifth Arrondisement and spotted the well lighted “Marty” sign a block or two away, signaling that my fears were unfounded.

Marty is one of the quintessential street-side brasseries with tables and chairs on the sidewalk out in front and a nice bar and additional tables inside. As is also the case with many such places in Paris, the innermost ranks of sidewalk tables had been glassed-in and roofed-over as the years went by, bumping the actual restaurant several feet out onto the sidewalk. We entered the center doorway, an antique, polished brass and glass affair, into an art deco lobby/reception area and were shown a table in the bump-out area. Our table was immediately adjacent to an open, but glass-enclosed, shellfish area where a fellow was busy shucking clams, oysters, crabs and all sorts of similar delights for Marty Restaurant customers and for a busy, street-side take-out service. Although we were technically on the sidewalk, we were inside the protective glass walls and surrounded with huge ferns and potted greenery that made us feel as if we were in a garden.

A nice bottle of Bordeaux, a 2008 Les Hauts de Naudon was the perfect way to start the meal.

Chris was enthralled by the skill with which the shellfish monger was busy popping open fresh, Normandy Oysters and arranging them on a bed of crushed ice. Needless to say, he absolutely had to try some, sweet and delicious.

I elected to try the gespacho andalou and Fran worked on a smoked salmon for her starter course.

For our main courses, I ventured into some tasty, pink, roast lamb with sautéed and stewed vegetables and chopped, roasted potatoes.

Chris delighted in a poached skate dish and Fran savored a grilled chateaubriand with béarnaise sauce. All were perfectly prepared and plated with an artistic touch.

I can’t even begin to recall what we had for dessert because we were all so pleasantly full. Our respective hats are off to David Rogers for recommending this wonderful spot. It was clearly the best dinner we enjoyed in Paris, and although the others were excellent as well, Marty and their staff made this night a memorable one.

What a perfectly delightful way to finish off a wonderful day.

Saturday was sort of a catch-up day. A day to catch up on some sleep and to prowl the neighborhoods and window shop. The weather was somewhat blustery and chilly, so our external wanderings were held to a minimum, but it gave us an opportunity to check out the residential neighborhoods a block or two off Avenue d’Italie. The back streets reminded us of the smaller European cities and villages we had visited over the years. The streets and sidewalks were clean as a whistle and the smells of food being prepared in kitchens hidden behind shuttered windows gave us a clue as to what residential life in Paris is all about.

Dinner (it always seems to evolve around food, doesn’t it?) found us at the “bottom” of Avenue d’Italie, past the “Auto Mile” of car dealerships tucked into showrooms on the ground floors of high rises office buildings.

We had no absolute dining agenda, but spotted an almost empty but pleasant looking corner brasserie, Le Liberte. Based on what we noted on our visit to Paris, it appears Parisians concentrate their dining efforts to the middle of day, with longer and larger meals at lunch. Even if I’m wrong, it would explain the ease at which we were able to get tables without dinner reservations.

Anyway, Le Liberte was able to work us in and located a nice table near a window where we could people watch. Nothing super remarkable on the menu but a 2007 St. Emilion Bordeaux, Chateau La Claymore made a nice start.

I decided it was my turn for a steak and it was quickly served. A bit on the chewy side, but the fun part was the pomfrites (fried potatoes), (Liberte fries???) stacked in an orderly pile like little logs next to the steak and sautéed green beans.

Dessert was an opportunity for the dessert chef to show his/her stuff and they came through with a spider-webbed looking chocolate cupcake on a bed of custard cream that tasted as good as it looked; rich and creamy. The little, inverted rice custard dish with a candle was equally yummy.

And so we waddled back the four blocks to the apartment to prepare for our early departure Sunday morning. We cleaned everything out of the fridge, prepared to turn off the water and close the blinds and set our alarms for the oh-dark-thirty wake-up call so we’d be ready for a seven o-clock taxi pick-up to shuttle us to the airport.

What fond memories. I can’t believe we waited this long to re-visit Paris. Our thanks to David Rogers for suggesting his apartment. If we had not run into him on the Queen Mary in May, we probably would have spent the week in another favorite haunt, Northern Portugal getting into trouble at any number of wineries and village restaurants.

We’ll be back. Skip

The Epicurean Explorer

President, International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association

Editor-at-Large, CityRoom

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